Good Fruit Grower

January 15

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14 JANUARY 15, 2015 Good Fruit Grower W a s h i n g t o n s t a t e ' s apple production will continue to expand, with a fresh crop of 200 million boxes possible in the future, two top market- ers predicted during the Washington State Horticultural Association's annual meeting in December. Robert Kershaw, president of Kershaw Fruit Company in Yakima, said when he predicted a decade ago that Washington w o u l d s o m e d a y produce 120 million boxes, he was laughed out of the room. B u t p r o d u c t i o n has surpassed that volume. The 2014 W a s h i n g t o n a p p l e crop is estimated at an unprecedented 155 million boxes, up from 115 million boxes last year—a 35 percent increase. Washington is one of the few apple growing regions of the world that has increased both apple acreage and pro- duction per acre, Kershaw said. "We will continue to grow and produce larger and larger crops." Mike Taylor, marketing director at Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee, also believes the industry will grow in leaps and bounds. "The rate of change is going to blow your mind," he said. "I think this indus- try is going to move 200 million boxes of fresh apples—not in the next five years, but in the future for sure." Discussion moderator Bruce Grim, retiring executive director of the Hort Association, recalled the tough years of the 1990s when the industry suffered low prices that were attributed to record crops. For example, in 1993, when the indus- try produced a record 83 million boxes of apples, the average f.o.b. price for all vari- eties and sizes of apples was only $12.88 a box, well below the breakeven price. The average price in 1994, which brought Bigger CROPS ahead Growers will need to produce niche varieties and maximize production efficiency, marketers say. by Geraldine Warner Postharvest

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